The village feels betrayed by their own. "Ganguli got these tenants and cultivators to sign negative declarations before the magistrate, in other words, they declared in writing they were not tenants. But, they are undeniably tenants because they have already paid the tenancy land purchase price.I have obtained some of these receipts through RTI," Rodrigues says.

I wondered how Pernem taluka's strictly narrow roads would service the tactless commercialization that Leading Hotels intends to implant on the land uprooting the flourishing cashew plantations that have existed there eternally. Not that the roads leading in and out of Siolim towards Tiracol are any wider.

It is going to be a backbreaking task one day soon driving into Tiracol when all that is planned for that 12,50,000 sq mt land will become a concretized nightmare when up and ready (even if the plan according to Ganguli is to set up a PGA-standard golf course with allied services). And if you think that hasn't already happened, take a look at the degradation caused by the Tata Metaliks factory that produces foundry grade pig iron which was forced to shut down following the Bellary-Hospet mining scam and the subsequent intervention by the Supreme Court.

Bottleneck

Imagine trying to quickly fill a bottle with water using a funnel. It just can't be done because it is the diameter of the neck that determines the pace of the inflow. Inversely, try pouring water quickly out of a bottle, the outflow is still limited by the width of the exit. This limiting factor is what helped coin the word bottleneck. And bottleneck is precisely what will be Tiracol's fate because its narrow roads and road-touching houses are the conduits of exit and they cannot be widened.

All the land he bought was mundkarial and tenanted land which cannot be sold in the form of a sale deed. It is for cultivation only according to the agricultural and tenancy act which made all cultivators and tenants the owners on the pre-condition these lands cannot be sold. Rodrigues also heads the St. Anthony Tenant & Mundkar Association (named after the village church) that is fighting the battle.

Tiracol has a total of 17 Survey Nos., 16 of which belonged to Aparnabai Tarachand Khalap (a Mapusa resident) and her large clan of heirs (none live in Tiracol) who sold the land they inherited through Ganguli. The Goa government owns the one Survey No on which Tiracol Fort stands. This entire Catholic village of Tiracol has 90 families, nearly 80 per cent of whom are tenants or mundcars of the Khalap' clan. Of the 90 households, about 55 dwell in the village and the rest reside in Mumbai. Cashew, the little rice that is grown and coconuts is the dependable source of income here.

Betrayed

The village feels betrayed by their own. "Ganguli got these tenants and cultivators to sign negative declarations before the magistrate, in other words, they declared in writing they were not tenants. But, they are undeniably tenants because they have already paid the tenancy land purchase price.I have obtained some of these receipts through RTI," Rodrigues says. About 8-10 families perpetrated this fraud and we believe that the landlords were paid Rs 50 per sq mt to sell their land, while the tenants were paid Rs 120, Rs 250 and Rs 450 per sq mt depending on the year over the seven years this scam evolved. "We have information that the tenants were paid off in cash and by cheque also Apart from being actionable in court, Rodrigues says the sale deeds Leading Hotels signed are illegal because the tenants were not mentioned in the deeds as stakeholders.

Leading Hotels signed a complex series of conveyance/sale deed, deed of rectification and sale, and sale deeds on August 12, 2008, June 12, 2008, September 3, 2010, April 8, 2010, November 14, 2007 and February 26, 2008 to purchase the 12,50,000 sq mts. It would take a legal mind to interpret why this was done or the fact that the August 12, 2008 conveyance/deed of sale (in conjunction with a June 12, 2008 agreement for sale) said a part payment of Rs 23,00,00,000 was made (later the cheques were cancelled by an email request) and eventually these payments were made: Rs 8,25,00,000, Rs 37,50,000, Rs 37,50,000, Rs 8,25,00,000, Rs 37,50,000 and Rs 37,50,000 on August 8, 2008 adding up to Rs 18,00,00,000 only. The April, November and February sale deeds mentioned these figures: Rs 3,63,30,975, Rs2,15,40,850 and Rs 1,11,01,200. Go figure.

Political chicanery

Amidst all the deception comes this shocker. According to Rodrigues, a prominent Congress MLA from north Goa was paid Rs 30 crores just to spend on convincing the many landlords and tenants to agree to sell. He was paid this basically to see the entire deal through. However, the 'single-window' did not have the desired effect when the rest of the villagers began to protest the sellout and made the paymaster very angry. What is even worse is the fact that Dr Wilfred de Souza was responsible for introducing Ganguli to Tiracol.He first (in 2007) came with the proposal when he told villagers at a meeting on the Mount Carmel premises that it would be to their advantage if they sold out as Leading Hotels would bring prosperity to the village. Then came Ganguli and he addressed the villagers at a meeting held on the premises of St. Anthony's church.